Facebook Like Fraud and Like Farms

It was only a matter of time. Give spammers an easy way to reach millions, and they’ll do it.

It is already pretty easy for a motivated spammer to commit Like Fraud: the act of creating a Facebook Like button for a URL other than the one on which users click.

In a similar manner, spammers have created sites that carry little else other than Google ads and funny phrases that users can “like” and share on their Facebook profiles. These sites are known as Like Farms. Many aren’t necessarily substituting a different URL, but theoretically, they could. This would give the target URL a lot of attention.

Seem like harmless fun? Sorry, it’s not. Here are some of the potential consequences of “liking” random messages from spammers:

  • Google (GOOG) has already flagged at least one as potentially carrying malware that may harm your computer. Be careful of clicking on the URLs of these funny messages. They may lead you to harmful sites.
  • You may be inundated with Facebook spam. By “liking” a spammer’s message, you are giving that spammer permission to start sending you Facebook updates. Lots and lots of them.
  • Although this doesn’t hurt you directly, these “likes” may make the spammer’s site seem more important to Google. Therefore, the next time you do a Google search, you may see that spammer’s site listed higher than a legitimate one with real information. I’m sure Google will correct this someday though.
  • Similar to gaming Google’s search results, this can game Facebook’s search results too.

It doesn’t surprise me at all that Like Farms have sprouted; it was only a matter of time. Now that they’ve blossomed, be careful where you tread and what you Like, for not all Likes are created equal.

Author: Mike Lee

An idealistic realist, humanistic technologist & constant student.